It try to link my ICT lessons in with current class topics wherever possible so that the children have: some consistency with their curriculum across each afternoon in the week (i.e. it's all about the same topic), the chance to purposefully practice/improve their ICT skills through a familiar context and so that they also have the opportunity to independently develop their understanding of the topic through ICT. Obviously, certain topics don't link very well - if at all - so I try to plan these in during more practical science topics (e.g. 'magnets') and the less exciting history/geography topics where any links would be tenuous at best and so that the children don't therefore suffer from losing an 'extra' lesson on them.
This week's Year 4 topic is all about 'friction', which at first thought is fairly tricky to plan an interesting ICT lesson on (bearing in mind that I want to save 2DIY for nearer Christmas). I did decide to try and link the lesson in with it though as I felt that it would give me the opportunity to teach the children some of the lesser-known features of Microsoft Word which are quite nice to learn and be aware of, even if they don't need to be used that regularly.
The activity which I came up with was creating a document explaining the possible factors may influence the thinking and braking distance of a car when it needs to stop. Using a technique that they've experienced in the past, I began by asking them to just copy out a few sentences of information that I'd put together - you could give them this on a printed sheet but to save paper, I inserted a picture of them into a document ready for them to copy underneath. As well as giving them the chance to practice their typing skills, I also cunningly included a few extra features which they had to learn how to insert:
- a forward slash;
- a colon;
- bullet points.
I believe that children at this age still need to be specifically taught how to insert these characters and by embedding them within a text, I hopefully gave them some purpose for typing them.
Next, I showed them a couple of ways of how to improve the appearance of their document - in addition to things like changing the font style and inserting clip art which they can already do quite confidently:
- changing the background colour of the page (and changing the colour of the text too to complement it if Word doesn't automatically do this);
- adding a border around the edge of the page, including changing its: style, thickness and colour.
The majority of the class created some fantastic information posters and in the plenary enjoyed talking about all the new ICT skills which they had learnt. The content in the document (car stopping distances) was just something that handily linked in with the class topic - the main focus was actually on developing their skills in presenting information in Word neatly (e.g. lists using bullet points) so the activity could quite easily be adapted to another topic if need be. Giving children the chance to combine a variety of formatting tools to improve the appearance of the work is something which they will always like doing and is something which, in my opinion, they do need showing if they are to be expected to create pleasing documents with complimentary colours/effects in future years on their own.
To finish with, here's a grid showing how I plan their word processing skills to develop during their time at my school: